I've spent the better part of my spare brain power this week on my quest to find a grueling, physically and mentally demanding task to ameliorate my mid-life crisis. (Or at least give me something else to focus on.) I imagine Peter has gotten sick of my bizarre texts (Want to walk across Alaska?) as he has tactfully ignored all of them.
Finding a challenge I could complete safely by myself that would require sufficient endurance to satisfy my requirements was tough. One of the ideas I kept coming back to was running a marathon. I'm a long-distance runner trapped in a penguin's body and I love running. But it felt like a cheat - I've already done two marathons. I know I can do a marathon.
Then I remembered one of my co-workers who ran the Connemarra Half-Marathon last year. I remembered there was also a marathon. I remember the co-worker saying that the course was incredibly challenging - very hilly.
Both my marathons were in Chicago, where the course is as flat a course as you will ever find. There is one small incline, near the end, which is actually just the on-ramp onto Lake Shore Drive. Running a hilly marathon would be a new and difficult experience. I find hills extraordinarily difficult, since I'm not mentally accustomed to having to exert extra effort randomly throughout a run.
Not only have I never run a hilly marathon, I've also never trained for a marathon entirely alone. Although I did all my short mid-week runs alone, my long runs were always done in the company of my running group, which was organised by the Chicago-Area Runners Association as part of their excellent marathon training program.
So it seemed as though a marathon, under the right circumstances, could meet my requirements. The Connemarra Marathon web site didn't have a course map, but it did have a route analysis, so I decided to check that out. One look at the jagged peaks and infrequent valleys, culminating in a steep monster of a hill and I was a goner - I'd finally found my challenge.
The best part is the timing. Camogie is essentially over for the year and won't start back up until next April. The Connemarra Marathon is the 6th of April. I have about 10 weeks to build up a fitness base and lose some weight before I need to start training in the last week of November. (Which means I will also be able to finish NaNoWriMo without worrying about getting in long runs.) And I'll be training during the Christmas, so I will have an excuse for eating festive treats. Plus, my Thanksgiving trip to Ohio will allow me to stock up on shoes, Gu, and comfy running shorts at a friendly neighbourhood running store. (Although I wish I were going to Chicago so I could go to Fleet Feet. I miss those guys.)
The downside, of course, is training through the winter. Finding the daylight to run on the days I work and dealing with the inevitable bad weather will be challenges in and of themselves.
I'm excited and eager to start. I'm also relieved that I've struck on an idea that satisfies my requirements. And I know Peter is relieved that he won't have to hear about walking through Alaska or kayaking the length of the Nile or biking across the Outback. At least until the next mid-life crisis strikes.